WWE 2K14 Xbox 360 Review
Publisher: 2K Sports Developer: Yukes Genre: Sports Players: 1-6 Age Rating: 16+
Other console/handheld formats: PS3
WrestleMania is the main event of professional wrestling, a true spectacle where many legendary careers have been forged over the years, so after last years attitude mode in WWE 13, Wrestlemania is a natural progression to focus on this time around for WWE 2K14, the first WWE game to be published by 2K Sports.
30 Years of WrestleMania, as the mode is known, is made up of a series of matches from some of wrestling’s biggest and most memorable face-offs from the last 30 years, such as Hulk Hogan taking on Andre the Giant, Shawn Michaels against The Undertaker, and The Rock versus Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Many of the matches include a video package that sets the stage well, as well as the appropriate wrestler attire and entrance theme. There are also historical objectives, which task you with executing certain actions to mirror some of the most memorable moments that occurred in each match such as Hulk Hogan body slamming Andre the Giant, it’s just a shame that it’s sometimes unclear of how you go about triggering these. For long term WWE devotees the mode is filled with glorious nostalgia, while newer fans will be educated on the rich history of WWE’s primary event.
One of the WWE’s most consistently great performers at WrestleMania is The Undertaker, who has had plenty of classic encounters over the years on the grandest stage of them all, and somehow continues to do so in spite of a broken down body. With a 22-0 unbeaten streak, he is also very much a part of WrestleMania, and this is also celebrated with WWE 2K14.
The streak mode allows you to either defend or attempt to end the streak of The Undertaker. Defend The Streak functions effectively like the survival mode of a fighting game, with an endless stream of opponents to take on, and the objective being to knock out or pin as many as possible. Defeat the streak sees you choosing a Superstar and taking on the Deadman himself, but this is made harder by the fact that this is an upgraded version of him, that fights harder and is overall a genuine challenge, just as a WrestleMania Undertaker should be.
The 84 strong roster has to be one of the best to have ever been featured in a wrestling game, encompassing some of the biggest Superstars of the modern day such as John Cena, CM Punk, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan and The Undertaker, as well as past icons like Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Edge, Eddie Guerrero and The Rock
With the change of publisher, those expecting an overhaul to the games mechanics and visuals will be left sorely disappointed at the lack of advancement in these areas, though much of the work had already been done on the game before the previous publisher THQ folded, so next time around we can perhaps expect a bigger change for the series, as 2K Sports look to make it their own.
Matches play out in much the same way as WWE 13, so your moves are determined by positioning and harder hitting moves are opened up by grappling an opponent in a groggy state. Attacking or taunting enough will reward you with a signature move, which is followed by a finisher, and limbs can be worked on with the limb targeting system, which is handy for the more technically gifted wrestlers.
This time around the action is quicker paced, reversals themselves can be reversed, and there’s new catapult catch finishers for certain wrestlers that can be triggered when an opponent is running towards you. There’s also some wonderful new little animation flourishes that sees wrestlers motioning for their opponent to get up or adjusting wristbands and such, but none of the new things really have that much of an impact and as a result, it’s virtually the same game as last year.
The creaky engine remains, so wrestler models are still lacking in detail and there’s still lots of silly looking hair, bizarre looking facial expressions, out of date commentary, some moves are too easy to reverse, and there are some bugs, which are more funny than anything else. The online is still too unstable to be a truly viable form of multiplayer, and tag team matches still don’t see inactive wrestlers recovering their health, but in spite of this long list of flaws, WWE 2K14 is still a wrestling game that is comprehensive in its features and the all important in ring action is enjoyable enough, but a fresh engine and more profound mechanical changes are really needed next time around.